11 Wounded at Israel-Gaza Border as Palestinians March in West Bank in Solidarity

Israeli forces remain on heightened alert in the area; the army says that the protests will ramp up closer to the end of the week

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A Gazan family at a tent near the Israel-Gaza border, April 1, 2018.
A Gazan family at a tent near the Israel-Gaza border, April 1, 2018.Credit: Adel Hana/אי־פי

Eleven Palestinians were wounded, one critically, by Israeli army fire on the Gaza border on Sunday, Palestinian media reported, as protests continued into their third day. Nine of the Palestinians were wounded by live ammunition, and one of the casualties is said to be critically wounded.

Six Palestinian demonstrators were wounded during clashes in the West Bank village of Abu Dis.

Earlier on Sunday organizers of the March of Return said the protests had calmed down in part due to the Easter holiday. However, Palestinian factions called for solidarity rallies in the West Bank, urging people to march toward Israeli checkposts and points of friction with security forces.

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Of the six wounded in the West Bank, five Palestinians were reportedly hit with rubber bullets and one with live fire.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces are on heightened alert in near the Gaza border fence: two brigades are reinforcing the Gaza Division together with soldiers from special units and snipers. The army says that the protests will ramp up closer to the end of the week.

The march’s organizing committee announced that it had held an assessment meeting midday Sunday. It was expected to focus on media briefings as well as activities in various tent camps along the border, mainly east of Gaza City.

>> Gaza's March of Return Reflects a Desire for New Palestinian Politics | Analysis

In an Arabic-language post on Facebook on Sunday, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, wrote: “Israel will not remain silent and the inhabitants of Gaza will know no tranquility until the Israelis are returned from the Gaza Strip and our soldiers are brought for burial in Israel.” He was referring to Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayid, who Israelis who disappeared in Gaza, and the remains of two Israeli soldiers, Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin, said to be held by Hamas.

He said Hamas was taking away the right of Gazans to pray over their sons. “The bodies of Matzab Salul, a Hamas activist from Zaweida, and Mahmad Rabaaya, terrorists armed with rifles and an explosive device who attempted an attack in Israel on Friday, have been added to the 24 other bodies being held by Israel. The terror organization Hamas, which controls Gaza, doesn’t care about the living or the dead. It is preventing their Islamic burial and the reading of the Faatiha over them,” he wrote, referring to the traditional funeral service prayer.

Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza sent a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and Israel Defense Forces Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek, demanding that the army return the bodies of two Palestinians killed on Friday. Attorney Suhad Bishara of Adala wrote: “Taking and holding the bodies constitutes a severe breach of the right to dignity of the deceased and their families.”

The Palestinian Authority attacked the U.S. Sunday morning for its support for Israel in light of the weekend’s events. “The U.S. administration decided to burn all bridges and international law,” Fatah Secretary General Saeb Erekat said. He added that the United States was “thwarting any decision or statement that condemns Israel's conduct after the killing of protesters in the Strip.”

The Palestinian Health Ministry said on Sunday morning that from Friday through Saturday night, 15 people were killed and 1,479 others were treated in hospitals for various injuries. According to the statement, 805 people were wounded by gunfire, 425 suffered tear gas inhalation, 154 were hit by rubber bullets and 95 sustained various other injuries.

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